"We are all wanderers on this earth...our hearts are full of wonder, and our souls are deep with dreams." ~ Gypsy proverb

Monday, December 5, 2011

A month of unschool: November

When I feel the whoooosh of another month gone past, I turn to look back and all I see is the smoke and flames of two tire tracks going off in the distance. Some detective work will be in order to uncover our month of unschooling. There is evidence though isn't there, unobscured traces consisting of finished artwork, scattered books, leftover ticket stubs to plays or music concerts...So with inspiration from MB who birthed "a month of unschool", and Stacy who also began to post hers, I am joining in to find November.

Out and About:

We LOVE plays, musicals and orchestras. This month there was:
Miss Nelson is Missing with audience participation of dancing and singing. Then, Nutty Nutcracker which included a back stage tour :).  And we can't forget the afternoon with the philharmonic orchestra I mentioned a couple weeks ago where holiday music rang in the season. I would be lying if I said the kids sat still through the whole concert and listened with full attention... naaah. They happily played with their imaginations, collected acorns, and entertained a 2 year old nearby...

We went back to the Avian Reconditioning Center for Owl Fest last month. We saw our favorite owls: the Great Horned owl, the Barn owl, Barred owl, and the Screech owl. Of course there were falcons and Bald eagles as well. This time we actually watched a Peregrine Falcon demonstration as he hunted for a pigeon wing. It was amazing...

You may know that Orlando is a town of theme parks. Well, Legoland opened a couple months ago. In this house, Lego is staple, a trusty go-to, an endless educator, and a spicket to a fountain of creativity and imagination. The boy has always loved Lego, but this last month, the girl found a liking to it as well. So, yes, Legoland...

and then here's the Lego land in our home

In case you are curious about what kids learn from Lego, take a look here. This month we revisited simple machines with gears, levers, and pulleys, problem solving, math, just to name a few. Lego is for all ages and gender doesn't matter. I even have Lego on my wish list this year for a Volkswagon Camper Van.... 'nuf said about Lego I think :)...

What was new and what continued:

In November we started a new weekly park playdate with new and old friends. I had mentioned also that we added a wonderful new co-op once a week where there is art, science and music.

While the boy thrived in this co-op learning about gravity, acceleration and making egg drop cages, discussing molecules, dry ice, principles of solids, liquids and gases, and music history, the girl was found doing her own science wading in the creek nearby, catching fish, creating dams, and leading the other sprouting bioligists to do the same.

We've added a couple new books to our library including Space: Pop Up Facts and Letters To Freedom: The American Revolution. We finished White Fang and started The Time Machine. They LOVE these series, and always ask for more. And speaking of reading, M. zipped through the Innovative Kids Now I'm Reading books Level 2 and E. read various materials from instructions booklets and video game manuals to tidbits on history and science.

We have continued homeschool P.E. once a week where there are friendly social games like sharks and minnows and island hopper, plus obstacle courses and sports. E. continued his tennis lessons, but now we have added more days. It's so exciting to see his passion for this sport grow. We went on hikes, we continued our games with apps and on the computer with Teach Me First Grade, Brain Pop Jr, Math Ninja, Montessori Crosswords, and IXL to name a few. E. has discovered equations and asked me to write him simple math problems like (157 - 39) x 4,  and M. learned to skip count and is trying to tell time. She also continued her daily dress-ups, regardless of where we go and her weekly shows at home. E. and I played our games such as Scrabble and Pente, completed a 300 pc. puzzle, and he put on M.'s training wheels for her bike by himself. M. has now found courage again to go bike riding after a major spill last year, thanks to her brother :).

Trying to recall our countless conversations is my hardest task. They have ranged from what the universe and the galaxy is made of, to the earth's rotations, to some of how our body changes during puberty (aiyaiyai), to what happens in digestion, to the history of Thanksgiving and how to dress a turkey, to who is Queen Elizabeth, to why a quarter falls faster than a heavy rock (checkout this cool video of Apollo 15), to religion and spirituality....I know there is more but that's all I can recount for now.

And maybe that is the most difficult part of unschooling, the lack of measurement and listing of "learned" skills. Yet they show me on a daily basis how they are growing, changing, and learning. I could spend my days writing it all down, and I do try sometimes. But I think I'd rather live how they learn rather than try to memorize it, that's what photos are for right? I know this will have to change as they get older as someone somewhere will want a record or "proof" of some sort. Personally, I know the kids will speak for themselves :).



  1. What a cool month of happenings! They are learning and growing so much! There is nothing like duct tape too! Legoland in FL? I had no idea-awesome!

  2. this is all so perfect sounding! love it! i struggle with the schooling choices for my kids and often think that their education *almost* falls into the bad joke category. (lewis is learning advertising jingles right now...for real!) i home schooled briefly and now realize that i didn’t give myself the leeway i needed to relax into it and believe. you are giving me ideas......thanx!

  3. A month packed full of fun and learning all in one - which is the best way to learn. I am sure you see them get so much more out of experiences when they are enjoying it. Love it!!!! The Lego's at home photo could have been taken in my boys room - and secretly I love the Volkswagon camper van - it is sooo cool. Thanks for reminding us that learning cannot always be recorded or measured. Wishing you a very fun December. XOXO cheyenne

  4. owls!!! how awesome! we picked this book up at random one day at the bookstore, and it turned out to be super cool (and it's a series!) it's a band of little owls and some amazing adventures they have.
    i haven't read beyond book 1 yet, but we plan to.

    i love your post! what you said about pictures- yes! that is why my month of unschool posts are so photo heavy. i take notes with my cell phone camera! and then when i'm uploading them all, it jogs my memory of things we did and learned.

    hurray for legos! quinn has exactly 18 of them to his name (found on the ground at our community garden one day), but he will probably be finding some more under the solstice tree.

    xoxo! thanks for joining in! :)

  5. fabulous, sounds like an inspiring and exciting month x

  6. Oh, you do make homeschooling look like such a wonderful learning relationship. My sister home schooled for several years...but with no support or social networking like you enjoy. Plus I know NY laws are very strict...would not know if a month of "un-schooling" would fly in these parts.
    I loved your part about the conversations. Though we do public schools I have made the vested effort to keep an involved, teaching, and fun conversation flowing between us; and with four girls its not hard: they love to talk and ask questions.
    Keep up the good work MJ, I know one day "your children shall rise up and call you blessed"

  7. This sounds so wonderful, MJ. What an exciting month for you and the kiddos. I would love to go to the Owl Fest and Legoland some time. My boy would love it!!!

  8. Loved your month! And your comments about unschooling - there is just so much learning to be done in conversations, watching together, travelling together! What a hassle to record it all. But it's posts like this that inspire me to keep going, take a more unschool approach to our learning and trust that they will learn what they need to!

  9. Ok, before I forget: that owl looks incredibly foul-tempered, it really made me laugh!

    I have to admit that I have no idea how you do it, I really admire that you're unschooling (that's home schooling, right?) your children and I'm certain they learn more with everything you do with them than they would at school. Amazing... Thanks for entering my little giveaway and your comment. Hope you all have a great week ahead. Love from London xo

  10. Your kids sound so awesome! It is terrific how they actually get to be outside and enjoy it. I wish more kids had that opportunity :)

  11. beautiful. so inspiring. I love reading your posts as they provide us, a family who has the older kiddo IN school currently, options and alternatives and additions along the way.
    My kids loved Brain Pop Jr., and I need to now purchase it as the free trial is up. : (
    Also, I just loved your last paragraph. All those things are SO fun to teach, right? Our five year old is just getting into learning the basics of geography, literature, math...etc...etc...it's amazing to be a teacher all of a sudden...it's so fun.

  12. Owls and Legos - two favorites at this house! great post, and very inspiring.

  13. wonderful. i was thinking after stacy's last post how unschooling can fly by in regards to recording anything. that's it's nature i suppose too.

    i have only vague notions of when you began unschooling, but i've been meaning to ask you about how you manage mama time, mostly when they were younger.

  14. You have some very lucky kids because they have a fun teacher! Children learn so much from us, mine are adults and they truly value how we raised them :)

  15. oh my gosh you were so busy! what a fun month that was. your kids are so cute, they look so involved with it everything too. i hope you have teacher appreciation day!

    LOVE the great horned owl!

  16. How busy you all are MJ,but it does look like fun. I didn't know there was a Legoland in FL and now need to plan a trip. Love seeing photos of your babies, they are adorable.

  17. This is all so inspiring! I remember visiting your blog in the first place because you homeschool and my husband and I are planning to do the same with our boys - or at least give it a good try! I LOVE all of the things that you've done this past month including all of those memorable conversations. I never had a relationship like that with my parents as a child (although I do now) but I would really like that for my own children.

    Thanks for sharing!


  18. In our world Lego rocks too!! That camper set...I do covet it so!

  19. wow! sooooo busy! but yes, kids are always learning and any opportunity can be one for learning. you are such a fabulous mama and they are so lucky to have you.

  20. We have World Bird Sanctuary here. Rescued owls and falcons of all kinds. How busy are your days! To have the outdoors as the classroom!

  21. So much good stuff here. The owl experience alone is so incredible. Full, indeed. And learning by Lego is incredible.

  22. wow! you guys are amazing! i never thought i would be so intrigued by unschooling, but i think about it so often these days. if we could do it, i am all aboard! just even thinking about how much i would learn and relearn in trying to teach, and having so much free time to explore. it's lovely!

  23. That's one beautiful month, MJ! I'm so happy for you that you got to share every single one of those days with your gorgeous children, learning together, sharing your spaces and thoughts and games together. And with SUCH room to move, and with so much faith that the learning is happening. It must be a joy to live, and it's a joy for me/us to witness.

    Thank you, MJ. For your words here, and your words in my space. As quiet as I've been here (and in my space too), I want you to know that I've thought of you often. I have sent you hugs and smiles many many days over! Thank you, dear friend.

  24. Sounds like a fun filled month. I love lego. We have finally bought the kids some this year for Christmas. I'm sure if nothing else, I will be happy playing with it! I love the photo of the owl. What an expression! Happy days to you. Jacinta x

  25. "And maybe that is the most difficult part of unschooling, the lack of measurement and listing of "learned" skills. Yet they show me on a daily basis how they are growing, changing, and learning."
    So, so true!
    I love your Unschooling, it looks incredible. Your children have so many experiences that are so rich with real life learning!

  26. Chase and I are desperate to go to Legoland! I had to show him your pictures and he squealed. They're a staple in our family, too (and I love that van, I asked for the lighthouse myself this year ;-) ).

    I absolutely love the picture of the owl. Stunning.

    It sounds like a wonderful month of un-schooling. So natural and flowing.


“Life isn't about finding yourself. Life is about creating yourself.”
~ George Bernard Shaw